Publication: Cambridge Handbook of Sociology

ConsumptionIt has taken a little while to come out, but an essay that I wrote for The Cambridge Handbook of Sociology, while I was at Manchester and teaching the postgraduate course on consumption has now been published.

The essay provides a brief introduction to the sub-discipline of the ‘Sociology of Consumption, outlining some of the arguments from that course and that Alan Warde makes in his comprehensive review of the field (see his article on The Sociology of Consumption: Its Recent Development. Annual Review of Sociology 41 (1) and his four-volume set on consumption).

The publisher has complicated rules on Open Access so if you would like to read my contribution, please just send me an email.


Third Meeting of Institutional Rhythms and Energy Demand Working Group

IMG_6450.JPGWe held the final meeting of the Institutional Rhythms and Energy Demand Working Group on the 23rd May 2017 in collaboration with the Nothern England Health and Sustainability NHS Network.

Professor Greg Marsden, Director of the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds introduced the DEMAND Centre’s research and I presented the outcome of the working group’s activities, the research briefing paper: Institutional Rhythms: Ideas and Opportunities for Energy and Mobility DEMAND Management in the NHS.

Following this final event, the Institutional Rhythms project and the briefing paper were featured on the home page of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit’s website.  Permanent link

Research Briefing Paper: Institutional Rhythms

Picture2This research briefing paper was prepared in collaboration with the Institutional Rhythms and Energy Demand Working Group and presented to the Northern England Sustainability and Health Network. It provides ideas and suggests potential opportunities for energy and mobility demand management in the NHS.

The paper examines two examples of ordinary working arrangements that hold in place particular patterns of demand for energy and travel: the first is the discharge process and the second patient transport.

It describes the sequences and synchronisations of the ordinary working activities involved that result in energy-intensive pinch points in ways of working and the boundaries of responsibility that hold them in place. Potential opportunities are identified in reconfigurations that are already taking place in hospitals, that might be adapted and adjusted, to shape patterns and profiles of demand for energy and travel and reduce associated carbon emissions.

Publication: Time and Society


My article titled ‘Institutional Rhythms: Combining Practice Theory and Rhythmanalysis to Conceptualise Processes of Institutionalisation’ is out now and is Open Access in Time and Society.

This article looks at some of the ways that practice theorists have drawn on theories of time and  rhythm to describe how practices are organised in everyday life. It does so to argue that Lefebvre’s work on rhythmanalysis provides important ideas for understanding how practices become temporally connected and societal rhythms become institutionalised.

Response to Government Consultation on Industrial Strategy

IndustrialWith Greg Marsden and Elizabeth Shove, we submitted a response from DEMAND to a Government Consultation on the Industrial Strategy Green Paper.

The consultation was for views on the approach to building a modern industrial strategy that addresses long-term challenges to the UK economy.

We responded to two specific questions:

Q27 What are the most important steps the Government should take to limit energy costs over the long-term?
Q34 Do you agree the principles set out above are the right ones? If not what is missing?

In response, we say that the industrial strategy pays considerable attention to energy systems and infrastructures – but none at all to a symmetrical discussion of demand. We go on to elaborate on how that missing topic might be included, drawing on ideas and research from the DEMAND centre.

Rhythmanalysis Seminar: Yi Chen

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There is a new seminar series hosted at Goldsmiths and organised by Paola Crespi, Mike Featherstone, and Sunil Manghani called: ‘Rhythmanalysis: Everything You Always Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask’.

Unfortunately, I missed the first session on ‘Rhythm in the work of Gilles Deleuze’ given by Stamatia Portanova. This week’s session, given by Yi Chen, was on ‘Rhythm and Rhythmanalysis’. Yi talked about her book on Practising Rhythmanalysis (2016) and on working with rhythmanalysis as philosophy and method to explore two sites: walking practices in the East End of London in the 1970s and the institutional rhythms of the British postal system in the years immediately after the Second World War.

To get at these two sites, Yi developed and distinguished between two connected concepts of rhythm, as bodily meta-sense and as assemblages of time-space activity.

There was some very interesting discussion about the impact of distinguishing between these two senses of rhythm (as meta-sense and as time-space), for Lefebvre’s project of rhythmanalysis and the potential of what Yi described as a non-essentialist method. Understanding rhythms at different “scales” is something that I have struggled with myself, in exploring immediate and extremely visceral bodily rhythms like the rhythms of martial arts and much “larger” phenomena like the institutional rhythms that comprise hospitals. So it was very useful to think about how and whether this issue needed resolving.

I did have some reservations about the idea of “applying rhythmanalysis”, and about the questions that followed about which methods rhythmanalysis might be best applied to. For me, this comes back to the question of ‘what is a theory?’. I also thought that there was more to say about the idea of eurhythmia and arrhythmia – so I will write a separate short post about that.

The next session has two talks, the first by Paola Crespi on ‘Rhythm in the Work of Rudolf Laban’ and the second by Sunil Manghani on ‘Rhythm and the Neutral’.

Seminar for Anthropology of Health at Durham


Durham Cathedral from the River Wear on the way back to the train station.

Last week, I gave a talk to the Anthropology of Health Research Group at Durham University on theories of practice and public health.

The beginning of the talk was based on our article in Critical Public Health, tracing some ideas from The Dynamics of Social Practice (2012) and using the example of smoking. Then I extended some of these arguments to talk about the temporal organisation and material arrangements that have underpinned changing ways of eating in the UK over the last 50 years. The slides from my talk are here.

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A great lunch with students in the Physical Activity Lab. Photo from Ben Kasstan @kasstanb

It was great to meet the community of PhD students in the Physical Activity Lab, to find out about all their interesting, and to discuss the significance of shifting research in health towards social practices.